Near Death Experiences / Afterlife Studies/Terrible Fear of Death


Hello Greg,
Hello Denis,

I have a genuine fear of the death, dying moment, and what happens after death, I'm so terrified and I can't get it out of my mind.  I've been thinking so deeply about how old I am now, like my life is so finite, and this fear is escalating in me and I can't seem to stop it, no matter how much I meditate or pray.  I'm a 60 years old female who is careful with a balanced diet of good foods, regular exercise and do everything I can to keep myself in good health.  

I would like advice on what happens at the moment of death, if people die in terror and incredible pain (which is what I've seen) And how long the terror lasts and when I die where will I end up as something tells me I might not end up where I hope to be in the Afterlife.  I don't know why I feel this way and I'm hoping you can help me with this, I am a genuine caring person and always try to do the right thing and help people rather than harm.  Why am I so terrified of Death?  Can you help me please?

Please help !

Hello Karen,

  Thank you for writing to me at All Experts with your concerns. I will make every attempt not to make my reply seem too academic or clinical. After all, the subject that you speak of is one that is human and personal and I will answer in same.

  The fear of death is natural. In he study of dying and death [Thanatology] it is one of the subjects that is introduced at the very start. There are several fears that are associated with dying and death. First there is the fear of the actual process of dying with fear of a painful death, fear of loss of dignity and finally fear of being a burden after one's death being three sub-categories. Of these three, you seem most concerned with the possibility of encountering a painful death. I will address that later.

  Another major fear is the fear of the loss of "life". Life in this case meaning fulfillment and enjoyment of daily living. This includes dreams and plans, friends and family and the things that makes us individuals.

  Finally, most people fear that they will no longer exist – that death is a complete erasure of one's “self”. That there is nothing but a black endless nothingness – the void. If this is the case, we will never ever know that we have died, let alone existed.  Or on the contrary, that if something actually does exist after death, what and where is it? This is called the fear of the afterlife. In essence I feel that it should be referred to as the fear of the after death. This encompasses the fear that is perhaps the strongest - the fear of the unknown.

  Death anxiety is a very real, and common experience. Thanatologists and psychologists have developed scales to determine the degree that an individual may suffer from death anxiety I have included such a link below for your interest. However, just from the gist of your letter I can tell that you would rank high.

  Let me address some of your concerns. First, your fear of a painful death. Whether or not there is pain prior to one dying is totally dependent on the individual circumstances of any given death.  Painful deaths are usually associated with disease. Accidents [or unnatural deaths such as a murder or botched suicide], where the person is conscious and not in a state of shock, can also be a cause of pain prior to passing. However in a hospital or other care facility a patient is usually given medications to ease pain and therefore a person on the threshold of death may still pass with as little pain and discomfort as possible. Karen, I wish that I could remember off the top of my head the name of the famous person who stated that he did not want anything administered  to him to ease his pain while he died as he did not want to miss out on what might be the last thing that he would experience. I would have to say that the vast majority of us do not hold that attitude! That being said, most care facilities will do what they can to insure an as painless as possible demise. But of course not all of those who die do so in a situation or circumstance that warrants pain. Many pass suddenly and many pass peacefully in their sleep, the latter of which I am certain is the method of preference.

  However, even if pain is present  prior to death, the moments immediate preceding  and during the actual death process, is painless. As only the recounts of those who have actually died and returned to speak of it is the only reliable source of information regarding this stage of dying I will have to depend on their testimonies as my source of information. These people, who have had a Near Death Experience [NDE], often speak of a liberating bliss upon death. Any pain from any source is non-existent. Many report feeling better in death than their healthiest day in life. Some have even rebuked the doctors who brought them back to life as they had to return to their sick bodies. Evidence points to the fact that actual death is free of pain.

  You ask if people die in terror. That is completely dependent on how one looks at death. Of course there is no way to stop the inevitable, but the way one regards it is subject to change. Death is physical; one's attitude towards it is personal and psychological. Attitudes are changeable and again, relying on the evidence put forth by NDEers, that attitude changes after a resuscitation . One common thread among those who have returned from being dead is that they no longer fear death. That is not to say that they look forward to buying the farm the next day, but when their time comes they will not be afraid to return to where they once were after their first death. Most have a renewal of the enjoyment of their earthly life after a NDE with their once active fear of dying a thing of the past. However I would not suggest the “die to be liberated' method as a way of abating death anxiety.  A more user friendly approach might be to see a psychologist or counselor. I would actually recommend that in your case as your fears and anxieties have become a barrier and an apparent obsession to your enjoyment of life.  

  In answer to what happens at the moment of death I will give a few common events . It is important to realize that not all deaths are alike and sometimes a person may omit stages. The first thing to happen is that you will leave your body and will likely be observing it from a vantage point that is usually above and to the left of it [I have no idea or guess as to why the left]. When a person observes their own body it is called autoscopy or being bi-located. This is similar to, but not the same as,  an out-of-body [OBE] experience. At this point one may observe the medical staff working on the body, or observe the scene of the accident, or what ever the scenario may be.  If in a hospital I have read reports of some of the more adventurous souls who have gone for a snoop around the ward after they have died [and it's thanks to them that some of the experiences can be validated].

  It is usually after this that the so called tunnel appears. Sometimes the autoscopy experience is omitted and one goes directly to the tunnel. To be honest, the trip can be a bit unsettling for some, not terrorizing, just 'different'. Even at its worse, which isn't that bad,  it is a short trip.  At the end of this tunnel [not always a tunnel, sometimes a bridge, river, field or forest – but usually something one must pass through or over] they encounter a bright, brilliant, but not blinding or uncomfortable light – usually white but sometimes referred to as blue or golden. It is at this point where one meets the being of light, in a “city of light” [accounts vary ].  And it is at this point where another fear of the living comes into play – the life review – what some fear as 'judgment'. If this is what you meant in your letter by not ending up where you hope to be , you have nothing to worry about. Hell is man's creation and exists only in our minds.

  There is a life review when one dies, according to all popular accounts. The important thing to know is that this panoramic view of ones whole existence is not a judgment. The soul gets a chance to see how it lived while on earth and how its actions, good and bad, effected those around them. The being of light helps the soul see where things could have been handled better but at no time is the spirit of that person condemned or judged. Another common thread in this event is that the soul feels the being of light's unconditional love and compassion and forgiveness for any and all negative earthly deeds along with joy with the good deeds.. A major theme is that there is no hell. It is at this point where the newly deceased begins to understand “everything”. We start to know the answers to mysteries – where people can finally say, “Oh, is that what Einstein was talking about.”

  Unfortunately there is little documented about what happens next as this is the point where a person experiencing a Near Death episode usually returns to the body. Those who do not return are chronically dead. However it is supposed that the existence in the spirit realm is similar as that on the earth realm. There are people, animals, plants. One can live pretty much where and how they want. Food and drink is available, but not needed. This first stage is a transition stage so it is very earth like. One can then progress to higher levels where base “needs” are no longer desired. Spiritual growth is at one's own pace. One can even travel back to the earth realm should they desire – few do. It is like visiting your grade school, its nostalgic but not a place where you want to spend a lot of time.

  It is not uncommon for the dying person to be greeted by family, friends and pets who have predeceased them. Sometimes these beings are awaiting the deceased to escort them over and bring them into the tunnel, especially in the event of an expected, natural death or are awaiting them at the end of the tunnel. It is not unknown for those who are dying to see those who have come to take them over hours or moments prior to their actual passing. Cases of Death Bed Visions have been documented and observed by both family, medical staff and care-givers if they are near the bed side of the one who is dying. Sometimes the dying will see angels or beings of light. What this is indicative of is that nobody dies alone.

  Karen, I highly suggest that you do some reading on NDE. The book that started it all was written by Dr. Raymond Moody and is called Life After Life.  I can recommend other books should you desire to expand your knowledge of this fascinating subject. Bear in mind that knowledge of what you fear can do wonders of abating that fear... know your enemy. In your case your enemy isn't death, but your obsessive debilitating fear of it.

  I can barely scratch the surface of death, dying and the afterlife in a response, but I hope that in some small way I have been able to help. Do not hesitate to contact me should you need me to address any more of your concerns. In a subject such as this one answer usually opens up two more questions and as of yet, there is no definitive answer available.  Please forgive any errors in this reply as it is 4 AM my time and I've no one to proof read this mailing. Here is a link to the resource page of my web site where you may find more useful information.

Warm regards,

Greg Pocha / A;; Experts / Near Death Experience and Afterlife Studies

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Greg Pocha


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Greg has intensively studied Thanatology [the study of death and dying], Near-Death Experience [NDE], Shared Death Experience [SDE] and After Death Studies including Life After Death/Life After Life and proposed this category to AllExperts to share his knowledge to the public in a compassionate and understanding manner. Greg specializes in Near Death, Shared Death and After-life Studies as well as Pre-death and Death Bed Experiences. Greg will make all attempts to help you with general information regarding your concerns or will make every effort to give you referrals. He will not answer questions that are related to religion or that are religious in nature.

  • NOTE: This category is for the answering of questions pertaining to Death, Dying, Thanatology, Near Death Experiences, Shared Death Experiences, Death Bed Visions, Survival of Consciousness, Afterlife Study. For questions about the "paranormal" see below.

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    During his studies in Parapsychology Greg decided to expand his education to include the sciences. He immediately developed a keen interest in not only the after life, but in the events that proceed it. Therefore he became knowledgeable in Thanatology, Death, the Dying Process as well as being extremely well versed in Afterlife Studies [Life After Death and the Survival of Consciousness], Near Death and Shared Death Experiences, Pre-Death Visions including Death Bed Visions/Experiences and all related subjects and theories including medical research and professional journal writings.

    Greg is currently working toward a Diploma in Advanced Parapsychology. Outside of practical hands-on experience and field work for over a decade, he owns a private reference library, exceeding 900 books, dealing with his areas of interest. This ever growing library is available should references need to be made to help in answering your questions. Volumes include works by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, MD., Robert Hatch, Sam Parnia, MD. Ph.D., Therese Rando, Ph.D., PMH Atwater, LHD., Raymond Moody, MD., Jeffery Long MD., Melvin Morse, MD., Craig Lundahl, Ph.D., Harold Widdison, Ph.D., Eben Alexander, MD., George Ritchie, MD., Maurice Rawlings, MD., et. al. Greg's on-going involvement in research and education is unending.

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